Iranian women protesting the compulsory headscarf by taking off their hijab in public could be facing up to a decade in jail for ‘inciting prostitution’, police has warned.
Authorities in Iran are desperately trying to stem the growing protests across the country against the dress code enforced on women since the Islamic revolution of 1979.
More than 35 women have been arrested in the capital Tehran alone in the past two months, with several reportedly subjected to torture while in custody.
At least two of the arrested protesters, Narges Hosseini and Shaparak Shajarizadeh, are being charged with ‘inciting corruption and prostitution’, Amnesty International reports.
Ms Shajarizadeh was arrested last Wednesday and has reportedly been subjected to beatings in prison.
Activists claim she was also ‘injected with an unknown substance by the prison authorities’ upon her arrest.
Ms Hosseini was arrested just over a month ago and has since been in custody in unknown conditions.
If they are found guilty of inciting corruption and prostitution, they could face up to ten years in prison.
‘This is a deeply retrograde move by the Iranian authorities in their ongoing persecution of women who dare to speak out against compulsory veiling,’ said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
It places many women at serious and immediate risk of unjust imprisonment while sending a chilling message to others to keep quiet while their rights are being violated.
‘In compelling women and girls to cover their hair, the Iranian authorities have violated women’s human rights in Iran for decades and also deeply hurt women’s dignity.
‘Rather than threatening women with jail terms for claiming their human rights, the authorities should immediately abolish the discriminatory, abusive and degrading laws and practices of compulsory veiling.’
The recent wave of defiance started with Vida Movahed, a 31-year-old mother-of-one whose protest and subsequent arrest on December 27 became headline news all over the world.
A video showing her calmly waving her white hijab tied to a stick above the crowds in the Iranian capital, went viral on social media.
Ms Movahed, who became known as The Girl In Enghelab Street, was released over the weekend, after spending a month in custody with her 20-month-daughter.
Thousands of social media users shared messages of support after her disappearance, dubbing her the ‘Girl of Enghelab Street’ after the area in central Tehran where she staged the protest.
Iranian activists started a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #WhereIsShe, demanding that the government reveal what happened to her.
The campaign eventually went global both on and offline, with protesters at the recent Women’s March in the U.S. waving placards with the slogan.
Ms Movahed was protesting Iran’s Islamic law, which requires women to wear a headscarf and long clothes that cover the arms and legs.
The Islamic dress code, in place since the 1979 revolution, considers veiling obligatory for any female above 13 in Iran and says they should cover themselves from head to toe while disavowing any figure-hugging dress.
Breaking the rules can result in fines of up to 500,000 rials (£17) and up to two months in prison.
President Hassan Rouhani, who came to power in 2013 promising a more moderate stance, has previously said it is not the job of police to enforce religious rules such as those forcing women to cover their hair.
But in April 2016, officials said there were 7,000 undercover morality police reporting on things like ‘bad hijab’ – a blanket term usually referring to un-Islamic dress by women.
Figures are rarely given, but Tehran’s traffic police said in late 2015 they had dealt with 40,000 cases of bad hijab in cars, where women often let their headscarves drop around their necks.
These cases generally led to fines and a temporary impounding of the vehicle.
Source » dailymail